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Mississippi College

Mississippi College Graduate Discovers Element 117

Mississippi College graduate Joe Hamilton is credited with playing a pivotal role in the recent discovery of element 117.

A distinguished Vanderbilt University physicist, Hamilton was part of an international scientific team discovering the super-heavy element.

Element 117 is the 26th new element that's been added to the periodic table since 1940. It is the 5th new element that scientists have discovered over the past decade.

“These new elements provide important tests of nuclear theories,” Hamilton said in a story posted on Vanderbilt's Web site. Taken together, “these elements expand our understanding of the universe and provide important tests of nuclear theories,” he said.

Scientists from institutes in Russia collaborated with colleagues from Vanderbilt and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to discover the element. Hamilton serves as a member of the team reporting the results. The team reported it produced the element in an atom smasher in Russia.

People that know Hamilton at his alma mater in Clinton say his connection with this new scientific discovery makes sense.

“He's one of the smartest guys to ever graduate Mississippi College,” says retired MC administrator Doc Quick of Clinton. “Boy, he's a brain.”

Quick, a 1955 MC graduate, remembers Hamilton, a 1954 graduate of the Christian university.

Flipping through an old Mississippi College yearbook on Friday, Quick spotted photos of Hamilton. The Vanderbilt professor played center on the Choctaws football team and was a student under MC physics professor Garnett Freeman Barnes.

While the Vanderbilt professor from Tallulah, La. is a very bright guy, Hamilton is also down-to-earth. “He's a good guy,” Quick said.

Hamilton, who received his master's and doctorate at the University of Indiana, is the Landon C. Garland Distinguished Professor of Physics at Vanderbilt.

 

April 16, 2010